If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you might have seen that I was asked to be a contributing blogger for Parents Connect, the official blog of Nicklaus Children's Hospital. I'm really excited for this opportunity because Nicklaus is such a wonderful organization that does so much for the children in the community. It's been around since 1950 and it has grown enormously even in just the past few years.
I had a chance to tour the hospital and visited their cardiac unit as well as their newest wing. The rooms are incredible and everything is state-of-the-art. And while I, like every parent, hope to never need to take my children to the hospital, it is so nice to know that such a wonderful organization exists in my own backyard.
Another thing you know about me if you follow me on social media is that Caleb has been in swimming lessons since he was a year old. His first summer we did a slow intro to swimming, and last summer we did intensive one-on-one swimming lessons with Sloan's Swim School. We recently finished building a pool in our backyard (which I will do a blog post on, too!), and as soon as the water went into the pool, Caleb went back to swimming for a refresher course. And while knowing how to swim and float is definitely at the top of my list for water safety precautions, there are also several other things that we as parents should be doing to make sure our children are safe in and around the water. This week will be full of pools and beach time for many of us, and we need to be extra conscious of our little ones in these circumstances.
"Living in South Florida, we are surrounded by water. If we don’t live near a body of water, there are pools in many backyards - our own or that of our families. Over the last few months, we completed the construction of a pool in our backyard, and as soon as that pool was filled with water, water safety was on my mind. Considering that there were more than 80 drowning deaths in South Florida last year, I want to be sure to always keep my children safe in and around the water."
Over on the Parents Connect blog, I'm talking about all the things you can do to keep your children safe, so that your family doesn't fall victim to this tragedy. Head over there to read the full blog post and find out how you can get a Water Watcher badge (and what it is).
The links in this post contain affiliate links.
I'm not quite sure how we are already headed into July! June has been a really busy month, and July is shaping up to be pretty busy as well, but in a great way! Here's what I've been up to this month.
I was provided with Tidy Snap free of charge. However, all opinions are my own.
When I first had Caleb, like any first time mom, leaving the house was an exercise in how much I could fit in my bag. I had a pretty big diaper bag, and I wouldn't leave the house without anything I thought I might possibly need in any scenario. Before Caleb was even born, I had my diaper bag packed and full to the brim, because you know, I could have to leave the house at a moment's notice and God forbid I didn't have anything and everything I needed ready to go. I carried about 3 extra pacifiers with me, a bottle of ready to feed formula just in case my milk dried up from one minute to the next (I know, I know), several extra outfits, blankets (yes, plural) and anything else I could think of.
I learned that I barely used half of what was in there, and I could definitely cut back on what I was carrying with me on a regular basis. I eventually transitioned to a diaper backpack and minimized the amount of things I carried with me.
This time around, I hadn't even prepared a diaper bag. I actually pulled out the diaper bag I used with Caleb, washed it, and had every intention of using it again, but instead I turned to my trusty RYLA Pack. Now I typically alternate between my RYLA Pack and my Louis Vuitton Neverfull, because it's big enough to carry everything I need and still look stylish.
My RYLA Pack comes with a diaper storage and changing kit that folds up into itself (but you can buy something similar to this on its own), so I just take that and switch it from one bag to another. In there I keep diapers, wipes, baggies to throw away stinky diapers, a travel size diaper rash ointment, and a travel size lotion. I also keep hand sanitizer, a sanitizing spray, hand and face wipes, and pacifier cleaning wipes that help remove dirt and germs when she inevitably drops her pacifier on the floor.
Another great product I have found has been Tidy Snap. Do you remember those slap bracelets we used to collect and go crazy for in elementary school? These are just like that! As a matter of fact, whenever Caleb gets his hands on them, he uses them as bracelets! They're rubbery, so they don't slip and slide around, but they are really great for helping to keep you organized.
I take two of these Tidy Snaps and in one I roll up a muslin blanket. The Tidy Snap helps keep it from becoming a mess in my bag. I use another snap to wrap a burp cloth (which I sometimes use to cover my breast while nursing - without having to cover the baby's entire head) and an extra onesie or romper in the case of a diaper blowout.
So anytime I want to switch bags, I grab those three things and make the switch (or leave it out altogether if I'm going out without them). It's really simplified things and helps me to stay much more organized. I know the kids things are wrapped up in one of these, and it's not getting mixed up with my stuff. The snaps are also really great for organizing outfits for travel, and keeping blankets rolled up in the drawer so you can see what you actually have in there.
I've linked all of these essentials or similar products on my Amazon Influencer Page, under Diaper Bag Essentials. For Tidy Snap, you can go directly to their website.
As a former teacher, I know how important it is for children to be good readers. As someone who truly enjoys reading, I’d love to pass the love of reading on to my children. This is why when I heard about The Children’s Trust and the #Read30 movement, I thought it would be great to share with you and challenge you to participate along with me.
If you are a family in South Florida, the Children’s Trust is challenging you to join the #Read30 movement and close the summer reading gap, aka the “summer slide.”
The social media campaign began June 1 and is running through August, and it asks parents and caregivers to read with their children for 30 minutes each day. The campaign is part of The Trust’s Read to Learn initiative, aimed at increasing the number of children who read at or above grade level by the third grade. How can you participate? Easy! Read with your children for 30 minutes a day. Then share a photo to social media and use the hashtag #Read30.
“Reading achievement can typically decline an average of three months in summer and the best way to prevent kids from losing that kind of ground is to keep them reading, which is what #Read30 intends to do,” says James R. Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust.
Reading with your children on a daily basis can really give them a leg up and help them succeed in school and in life. Aside from reading together for 30 minutes each day, The Children’s Trust also suggests following these simple guidelines:
Summer reading always felt like a huge chore while I was in school, but it’s so important. For kids who have assigned summer reading books, try and get involved with what they are reading. Once they’ve finished their required reading, let them choose their own reading material. Take them to a bookstore and let them browse. Give them ownership of their reading material. I LOVE to read and I finished the last few Harry Potter books in under a day, yet required reading was always the worst for me to get through and would take me weeks. [Teachers, one thing I used to do was assign one book and then make the second book reader’s choice - it had to meet certain requirements or it was chosen from an extensive list. They had to do a full on report once school started, but I had a lot more success that way.]
And thirty minutes may sound like a lot if your kids are little like mine, but you can break it up! Read a book in the morning, another after lunch, and then again at bedtime. Remember, it all adds up!
Children who read for 30 minutes daily are more likely to read at grade level by the third grade, increasing the likelihood of academic and professional success. According to a 2010 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “reading proficiently by the end of third grade can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s educational development.” Until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read, but beginning in the fourth grade, they are reading to learn.
So join me this summer and share your your photos across social media using the hashtag #Read30. I can wait to follow along!
For more information on The Children’s Trust and the Read to Learn initiative, please visit https://www.thechildrenstrust.org/read30.
And that means that teachers everywhere are jumping for joy, shedding their cardigans for swimsuits, their chalk for a cold drink, and handing the baton off to Mom & Dad. Which means... oh. Wait. You mean, I've got my kid 24/7 for the next couple months? What on earth am I to do with them for all that time?
I'm sending Caleb to day camp at his school for a couple of weeks, but camps can get expensive, so he's not going all summer long. I also thought it would be nice to spend some quality time with him and Chloe together (day 2, already reconsidering this decision lol). But I knew if I wanted to do that, I was going to have to come up with some activities to keep him busy and out of trouble, and so that he didn't sit in front of the TV all summer long.
So I put my teaching skills to use (or rather, my Pinterest pinning skills), and created a Summer Schedule and some weekly themes to help keep this little guy entertained.
For the schedule, I built plenty of downtime into it, in case stuff comes up or we want to have a play date or something. I gave each day of the week a theme, so that it's easier to prepare for crafts on Mondays, going somewhere on Tuesdays, etc. Also, none of it is hard and fast, and we can adjust as we go - kind of like I used to do with my lesson plans when I was teaching. The big gaps in the schedule are to fill with crafts, field trips, the library, pool time, or anything else we decide. (Make sure you scroll to the end of the post to download the PDF files - these jpegs aren't so great!)
While I wanted to be creative, I don't feel like I need to reinvent the wheel. I decided I would come up with a few themes for the weeks I have him home with me (unfortunately there aren't enough themes for the whole summer). I started searching for activities on Pinterest, and boy did I find them! There are some pretty creative activities out there, and my Pinterest board is now full of them! Since Pinterest now lets you subdivide boards, I made one Summer Activities board, and then created sub-boards (is that what they're called?) for the different weeks, based on themes. Just because I pinned all these things doesn't mean I'm going to get to every single one of them. On the calendar with the weeks, I linked the theme for that week to the board. Some of the activities are more involved, others require very little prep.
I know this won't function perfectly every single day, and it's not a set-in-stone schedule, but it is something that will help us to do some activities this summer and not drive one another crazy. And as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or suggestions.
Click the files below to download them.
Follow the Summer Activities Board
When we moved into this house, we knew that there were a lot of things we wanted to do to it, including basically doubling it in size. When we were having the plans drawn up for the addition, which included our master suite, I really wanted my close tot include a vanity somehow. That was the original plan, but once it was built, I realized the space wouldn't work for a vanity. So I put it off because there was always something going on.
For a while, we had an exercise machine in the corner of our bedroom, and we recently sold it because it had become a glorified towel rack. I finally decided I wanted the vanity enough that I started to do the research for it. I convinced Eddie that it would be a beautiful corner in our room and that it would make a space that had been wasted for so long finally useful.
He agreed, and I got to work picking everything out. It took me a few weeks to settle on the actual vanity, which is actually a writing desk. And once Target came out with their Opalhouse line, I knew what I would use for accents.
I ordered two toothbrush holders to hold my makeup brushes, and a soap dish holds my perfumes. I also ordered a drawer organizer and a magnifying mirror from Amazon (you can find it on myAmazon Influencer page).
I've been able to sit and do my makeup quite a few times, but it's really a space that just brings me joy. I walk into our bedroom and it's the first thing I see, and it's a pretty, feminine space that goes so well with the rest of the room. The space feels very glamorous, and there's nothing this mama loves more than a chance to feel a little glam (cause Lord knows I don't get to glam up every day).
Dress is New York & Company.
Shop the Look
The other evening, we had an event at Caleb's school. It was a mass and reception. I had bought these gaucho pants a couple weeks before, and I had been wanting to wear them for something. I usually default to jeans, but for certain occasions I like to switch it up, and I wanted to dress up a little. Because I am still nursing, most dresses are pretty tough to manage, so I'm wearing a lot of two piece outfits these days, for easy access. These linen gauchos are really pretty and so comfy. The linen is soft and not scratchy at all, and the elastic waist is pretty much heaven sent!
I also had these slides that I purchased before Chloe was born. I've worn them a few times, and they are so comfortable. I really like the idea of mixing prints, but I'm always a little hesitant as to how to make it work. I feel like a great way of easing into mixed prints is by using a printed shoe.
Another tip for mixing prints: Stick to the same color palette. This works because they are both blues. But I do love the red floral accent on the shoes, and I tied it all together by wearing a red lip.
The blouse I've had for a long time, but I love the subtle lacy detailing in the front and the V in the back. I finished off the look with some navy blue tassel earrings and a blue envelope clutch.
I'd wear this look again in a heartbeat, maybe for a meeting, or for brunch even - it's a pretty versatile look that is cool and comfortable, but still looks put together.
And since I know you guys really just come here to see my kids...
Keep it cool, babes.
Love the look? Shop it!
Contains affiliate links
A couple of months ago, I was reorganizing drawers in the kitchen, and it struck me just how much of Caleb had creeped into our neat, pre-kid lives. It was something silly. I opened the utensil drawer to take stock of what we had and do a little spring cleaning, and the contrast of our dark-handled flatware alongside all of Caleb's brightly colored utensils was just really poignant to me.
Obviously I have children. I know this because there are toys strewn about the house, and the laundry is filled with tiny socks and tiny underwear and because I spend more of my days talking about superheroes than I ever thought imaginable. But it was in that utensil drawer that the scope of motherhood really hit me. It was then that I realized just how much motherhood had changed me.
That drawer represented our lives before Caleb, and with Caleb in it.
Before having children, everything was neat, and uniform, and orderly. We picked up the house and it stayed picked up for longer than 5 minutes. We made a schedule for the day and we could stick to it. We made plans and didn't have to throw them out the window because a little one woke up sick. I could get home from work and watch whatever TV shows I wanted, or go to the gym, or take a nap. Generally, I had my life together. But eventually, that life was a little bit empty, and our souls ached for something more. I remember watching TV with Eddie one day and saying to him, "Our house is lovely, but you know what's missing? The sound of tiny feet on the wood floors."
And after kids? Like the drawer, life is colorful. It might be messy, but it's filled with joy and color and laughter. Life has changed, and so have I. I've learned to embrace the toys and the color that appear in every corner of the house. I've learned that every day will be different, and that most will never go exactly as planned. I watch shows that make my child happy. I make a fool of myself to make my child laugh. I am stronger than I have ever been in my life - not because I go to the gym, but because I spend all day running around after a toddler, and carrying an infant seat around town. I don't nap most days, but I do value my rest like never before. Once highly insecure, I now know that there is nobody in the world who knows my children better than I do. I feel emotions with more intensity, and I am more fiercely protective of my family than I have ever been of anything. I have learned that our hearts can expand immeasurably, and love multiplies when you need it to. I am different, because my children have changed me. The house is filled with the sounds of little feet and little voices, and it was exactly what the house needed to feel full and complete.
It took a silly drawer to come to that realization, but I'm so glad I did. Because instead of wishing for the life I once had, it made me recognize how much I have grown. And that drawer? I'm not quite sure I'll ever have the heart to reorganize it.
Did you enjoy this post on motherhood? If so, be sure to check out the posts linked below. These ladies are all amazing and they have their own thoughts on motherhood that I'm sure you will enjoy!
The product was gifted to me in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This past Sunday, while Eddie was off at a course, I decided I was going to brave our local Publix store by myself with both kids. I had a little anxiety about it, but there were a few things we were out of and I didn't want to place another delivery order. I had promised Caleb that we would make Hulk Muffins this week, and I needed some of the ingredients for that. Plus, I really wanted to use my Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock.
As shown in the image above, putting your child's infant seat in the seat that is meant for older children is a really unsafe way to go about doing your groceries. It throws off the cart's balance and can easily lead to the cart tipping over and the infant seat falling (super scary, right?). When Caleb was a baby, I remember getting so frustrated when I went grocery shopping, because his infant seat took up the entire basket area of the cart, so I was really limited in the amount of groceries I could buy.
But with the Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock, I was able to save tons of space in the cart. I was even able to put things under Chloe while she was in there. Caleb loved being able to see his little sister, and it really did make the shopping trip that much more pleasant since I knew she was safe and I didn't have to limit my groceries too much. The hammock fits most standard grocery carts, holds up to 50 pounds, and if you don't feel comfortable having your baby in the hammock on it's own, you can actually fit a standard infant carrier in the hammock, which frees up all that space for you under the infant seat. You can safely use it until baby is sitting up on their own.
The hammock clips onto the sides of the grocery cart with two plastic clips, and you secure it with a velcro strap on both sides. I felt like Chloe was really secure in there! There is also a safety harness to keep the baby in place.
So even though Chloe did decide to melt down at the very end of the shopping trip and let the entire store know how hangry she really was, the shopping trip leading up to that point was as smooth as I could have expected it to be thanks to this nifty little invention.
Want a Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock of your own? Shop this affiliate link and get 10% off your order! This also makes a pretty awesome gift for a new or expecting momma.
The biggest reason we went to the grocery store was to make Hulk Muffins for Caleb. I made these once before and documented the process so I could publish on the blog, and I'm glad I documented it then and not this time, because this time was an epic failure. I decided to sub out whole wheat flour for coconut flour, and let's just say it was a dry crumbly mess. Apparently coconut flour is super absorbent and you need to use way less of it and more eggs, and I had no idea, so we had a failure this time around. But the first time around, they were a yummy hit. They are green because they are loaded with spinach, and they are sweetened with applesauce, so they're not loaded with sugar.
They were so much of a hit that one evening, Caleb ate FOUR of them (and then refused dinner, which was fine by me). So if you have a picky eater, you may want to give these a try! We call them Hulk Muffins because he's obsessed with anything related to super heroes, and he got to watch them grow in the oven like the Hulk does. But they would work well with a ton of other names. I actually had him help me with the process and he really enjoyed it!
Recipe originally from Pretty Providence
Servings: 18 muffins
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.